Last week I spent about about 2 hours (each day) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday marking out the quilting plan and basting Cloudy Night Sky. It was a lot of time for me to be on the floor, so since then I’ve been letting my back rest. I expect by the middle of this week (Wednesday or Thursday?), I’ll be ready to start quilting Cloudy Night Sky. Today, I’m going to share about the process, tools, and link to tips and tutorials I’ve written about my preferences for quilt marking and quilt basting.
The first thing I need in order to get started is a quilting plan. Lucky for me, I’ve had the quilting plan designed for Cloudy Night Sky for about a day less than I had the design of the actual quilt. To help me develop quilting plans, I will often start by doodling on my iPad using an Apple pencil in Procreate. Here are a few timelapse videos of my Procreate quilting doodling process:
I use layers when I’m doodling these ideas in Procreate, and my Sequenced quilting plan post walks step by step through how I create these quilting plans. Recently, once I have the doodle in Procreate, I will shift back to my design software (Inkscape) and draw out a final detailed quilting plan, like you can see for Cloudy Night Sky. I also have another blog post about this process for my Space Arcade quilting plan.
I want to chat more today about the tools I use when I mark the quilting plan out on my pieced quilt tops. I try to always layer my pieced quilt top on top of the batting that I will be using, then I like to place the batting and quilt against a firm surface (aka not carpet or a rug). In the case of Cloudy Night Sky, I opted to use my floor because of the number of curves rotating in every direction across the quilt top. When I’m able, I love to put the batting and quilt top up on my specially made design wall that lets me use a Hera marker while standing up (DIY: Make a Design Wall you Can Use With a Hera Marker).
So, clearly my Hera marker (the white plastic tool, purchased from Clover) is an essential part of this toolkit for me. I also used a combination of my 6″ x 12″ and 6″ x 24″ OLFA acrylic rulers and my custom perfect quarter circle templates that I cut from template plastic. For Cloudy Night Sky, I used all of the sizes I have (from 1″ to 8″ radius in 1″ increments). I also needed a 9″ and 10″ radius circle, and to get those, I simply used one of my OLFA rulers and the method that I demonstrate for marking curves in my Tips for Using a Hera Marker YouTube video.
Note that in my patterns I have started to include details on my quilting plan, and when I use the perfect quarter circles as part of my quilting plan, I also include those templates as part of the pattern.
Last week, I put together a compilation video on Instagram of 3 days worth of timelapse videos that show the full quilt marking process for Cloudy Night Sky. In total, that video represents just a bit over 5 hours worth of my time.
I took a photograph of my marking process at the end of each day. On Monday, I spent the longest amount of time. I needed to work through looking at my computer screen and translating the design to the quilt. And I really wanted the satisfaction of getting all of the Snow fabric in the quilt top marked by the end of the day.
My body was pretty sore after all the time I spent working on Monday, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get all of the Nightfall marked on Tuesday. I surprised myself by being able to go quicker, though (since I had already worked through a lot of decisions about how and what to mark on Monday). I have a weekly chiropractic appointment, and she knows I’m a quilter. She took one look at me on Tuesday evening and said, almost with a sigh, “You’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor, haven’t you?”
Between a bit of ibuprofen and the help from my chiropractor, I was limber enough to finish up the marking for the quilt top on Wednesday. And goodness was it satisfying to see it all laid out.
But notice how the lines are not all that visible in my photographs? Don’t worry about my being able to see the lines when I’m quilting – the trick is to cast angled lighting across the quilt top. Lighting is one of the things that you don’t want to miss in my Tips for Using a Hera Marker video.
And because I might be slightly crazed, I decided to go ahead and basted Cloudy Night Sky last Thursday. There really was a method to my madness: with the basting complete, I knew I would be able to take a bit of time to rest, recover, and get in one more visit to my chiropractor before starting the quilting.
I know not everyone can get weekly chiropractic adjustments. I didn’t used to need them, but a back injury from when I was 19 has slowly made itself known on a permanent basis, so seeing a chiropractor is part of keeping my body as painless as possible (I’m at a point where I’m not sure I’ll ever be pain free again). I put together some of the exercises and tips I use daily or near daily to help my body in my Diatom Basting post.
I will be quilting Cloudy Night Sky on my domestic Juki TL-2200 QVP mini. If, like me, you quilt on your home domestic machine, I compiled all of my Quilt Basting Tips and Tricks last year.
When the basting was complete, I was really happy to turn the basted quilt over and note that all of the basting pins made it through all the layers of the quilt sandwich! I am eager to keep making progress on Cloudy Night Sky by starting the quilting this week. What are you working on?